Quarantined

“No crowds until after her 2 month vaccinations.”

We had already missed Christmas. Josie nursed in the tiny hospital room beneath the glow of fluorescent lights instead of cheerful twinkling ones while I listened on speakerphone to my bigs tearing into presents from Santa. I closed my eyes to see their faces, and I couldn’t help but cry a little.

Thankfully, I had started listening to Christmas music on November 1st. I decorated the house before a single snowflake fell. All the gifts were wrapped and ready weeks in advance. I filled up on Christmas early just in case.

My tank was full by the time Josie made her appearance on the 23rd, and it sustained me in the dull hospital room. That and the very real gift swaddled in my arms. My littlest girl snuggled against my chest, here at last and healthy after months of ultrasounds and uncertainty. Her eyes locked on mine as if to say, “We got this, mom.” We did.

JosieBirth

Two months inside to protect her? Whatever it takes.

I was optimistic and drunk on gratitude for her every breath, for her minute fingernails, for her second toe that is longer than the rest. My protective instinct was on overdrive with this one. I forgot that play dates and mom groups had saved me with my other three. I forgot how much I needed fresh air to marinate my insides, so I could feel alive and whole and part of something.

You ok? My husband asked.

Yeah. Yep. Just tired.

Winter break ended. Days began with “have a good day” in doorways and ended with “wash your hands” and hugs. I rotated through nursing tanks and black yoga pants. My contacts stayed in their case.

You ok? 

Yeah. I think so.

I had never had a winter baby, born in the middle of cold and flu season, a germaphobe’s nightmare. Terrifying flu headlines and worst case scenarios ran on repeat in my mind. The pressure to protect my girl weighed heavy.

Morning, noon, night–the sky remained a constant gray. The trees around the house were naked and raw making spindly, crooked silhouettes against the blackout blinds in my bedroom.

While the rest of my family lived–school, practice, play dates and games–I got to know Scandal’s Olivia Pope. I binged on HGTV. I asked my husband if we could buy a fixer upper and hire a contractor to make it our dream home. I painted a dresser. I checked Facebook to watch peoples’ “real” lives happen. I learned to put nutmeg in cream sauces from the Food Network. We don’t eat cream sauces.

I had forgotten the ache of breastfeeding, the heaviness in my chest that settled there until my body adjusted. I winced when Noah, Chloe and Sylvie curled into me because my engorged breasts were on fire.

I spontaneously leaked from everywhere-my eyes, my breasts, other places into a diaper-sized pad.

You ok?

I think.

My hair lay limp against my head. Deep eye circles marked my face. I tucked my new muffin top into my pants and my cumbersome breasts into my top. Lycra was the only thing holding me together.

You ok?

I’m not sure.

I tried to sweat out my growing melancholy with my fitness favorites. It worked sometimes or for a while. I told myself to snap out of it. Get a grip, I whispered. She was here. That’s supposed to be enough. Her growing eyelashes, her double chin, her sideways smile. I loved every inch of her but lately not an inch of me.

With each gray day I felt more and more that I was watching my life happen through a fogged window. I forced myself to engage. I coached myself through. My self-talk tried different tones.

I passed my 6-week postpartum survey because there were plenty of moments I smiled. Enough good to hold onto to keep me afloat. Enough “I’m doing well considering” considerings.

And then without warning the sun emerged from behind the clouds. Darkness didn’t saturate the house so soon. We had a dance party in the kitchen, and I realized when it was over that I was there, really there scooping up the kids and spinning until I was dizzy. I laughed spontaneously and fully. I meant it.

Before that moment, I was afraid that gray was my new reality.

The promise of spring buzzed around me like static electricity. And I knew, inhaling this moment, it wouldn’t be long now.

5 comments for “Quarantined

  1. Kate @ Did That Just Happen?
    February 25, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Love and hugs!
    I’ve been stuck in the house for like 3 days now, due to the bad weather, and I’m not sure I’ll survive! I can’t even imagine weeks on end – but – you got this! 🙂

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      February 25, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      I haven’t started clawing at the walls, yet, so I think I’ll be ok 😉 And I have to say: Kate, you are wonderful!

  2. Kathleen Gallo
    February 25, 2015 at 10:47 am

    We are so thankful that our prayers for you and Josie were answered in the positive! I remember those first 6-8 wks. w/a newborn, feeling fat & tired, and yet loving the little person the Lord had sent to us! There are times when you actually WANT time to race on quickly! Besides the concern for her health, you also had the whole measles and flu scares to keep you hiding out – and I am thankful those prayers have been answered, too! Love all your posts and you, always!!

  3. February 26, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I am happy that you found the strength to get through postpartum. I have two children and thankfully didn’t suffer with the condition but I certainly do applaud and woman who finds a strength she never knew she had to hold on until that haze lifts.

    Great going.

  4. Deb
    March 2, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I had a winter baby but I don’t remember it being quite so dreary because the weather was just not like this year’s. We could walk around the city and be fine — no one germing up my kid but not stuck inside either. I guess with the baby coming in June it will be better but now I’m all freaked out about vaccinations (and lack thereof).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *